Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

200

Keith Pray's Big Soul Ensemble: Live at the Lark Tavern

By

Sign in to view read count
Live recording can be a mixed blessing. On a live album, an artist has an opportunity to capture the raw energy created in performance before an audience. When the band is cooking and the audience is whooping it up, it is clear that while music is made in rehearsal halls and recording studios, it lives onstage. On the other hand, recording live presents its own unique set of challenges. Getting the best possible sound in the controlled environment of the studio is one thing. Getting it in a room not designed for optimum acoustics and filled with noisy patrons is another thing altogether. And, of course, every song is a first take. A bad night on the bandstand could turn into a wasted evening of recording as well.

When it works, however, the results can be spectacular, as in the case of Live at the Lark Tavern by Keith Pray's Big Soul Ensemble, an album which perfectly captures the group in the act of blowing the roof off this intimate upstate venue.

The album starts off with a high-energy performance of pianist Joe Gullace's composition "Elements," a churning exercise in group chemistry. The brasses and reeds exchange phrases over a tight rhythm section which features the composer herself on piano. Keith Pray's energetic alto solo keeps things moving, while tenor saxophonist Brian Patneaude and trumpeter Chambers, Herbert & Ellis - vocalists each contribute concise but passionate solos. The whole thing pulses with power before coming to a stunning close.

"Walkin' the Dog" is not the Rufus Thomas novelty hit, but rather a Basie-esque mid-tempo shuffle that opens with a walking bass performed with élan by Lou Smaldone and tasteful piano interjections from Dave Gleason. "Walkin' the Dog" also features a wonderfully laid-back solo from tenor saxophonist Lee Russo.

One of the album's many highlights is "Renee," a gorgeous composition by Kevin Tkacz which features some incredible ensemble work from the brasses and reeds, as well as exceptional solos from Russo, Gleason and Smaldone. Pray's composition "The Other Funk" begins with a mournful brass section playing what sounds like a quote from either Dire Straits or the Police before launching into a tasty medium- tempo groove that owes more than a little to Fred Wesley and the J.B.s.

The album's closer, a brisk take on saxophonist Patneaude's "Change," features an outstanding solo by the song's composer, as well as a lyrical flugelhorn solo by Lambert.

The recording is not perfect. At times, the brasses seem a little low in the mix, almost as though the group were playing around a single mic stand (which is clearly not the case, as the piano and bass are very well miked). This doesn't detract from the listening experience, however. Instead, it helps create a sense of space, as though sitting at a table near the bandstand.

Alto saxophonist Keith Pray has been appearing with this group at Tess's Lark Tavern in Albany, N.Y., on the first Tuesday of each month for some time now, and he has gathered the absolute cream of upstate New York's jazz talent for this endeavor. For those who haven't been to see them live, this album is a perfect opportunity to hear the band. For those who make the monthly pilgrimage, this album is a perfect souvenir. Either way, this is some good stuff.


Track Listing: Elements; Walkin' the Dog; Transconfiguration; Renee; The Other Funk; I Remember Roland; Yet to Come; The Gate ( A Portrait of the Mohawk); Change.

Personnel: Keith Pray: alto sax, soprano sax; Dave Fisk: also sax; Katie Pray: alto sax (3, 4, 7); Brian Patneaude: tenor sax; Lee Russo: tenor sax; Scott Hall: baritone sax; Scott Thompson: trumpet; Terry Gordon: trumpet; Sam Ponder: trumpet; Steve Lambert: trumpet; Dylan Canterbury: trumpet; Rick Rosoff: trombone; Ken Olsen: trombone; Brian Kaplan: trombone; Adam Streeter: tuba; Dave Gleason; piano; Yuko Kishimoto piano (1); Lou Smaldone: bass; Bob Halek: drums.

Title: Live at the Lark Tavern | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Glow of Benares CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Magic Circle CD/LP/Track Review Magic Circle
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 12, 2017
Read A Gathering Foretold CD/LP/Track Review A Gathering Foretold
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Swinging In The Holidays CD/LP/Track Review Swinging In The Holidays
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "Forage" CD/LP/Track Review Forage
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "The Last Sense To Leave Us – A Tribute To Pauline Oliveros" CD/LP/Track Review The Last Sense To Leave Us – A Tribute To Pauline...
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "New Jazz Standards, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review New Jazz Standards, Volume 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "What Brought You Here?" CD/LP/Track Review What Brought You Here?
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Just Funkin' Around" CD/LP/Track Review Just Funkin' Around
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 5, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!